Giving thanks — 2020 style

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turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing

I was surprised to notice that the word “relaxing” came up frequently in posts and stories about how most people spent their 2020 Thanksgiving.

With a nationwide plea to stay home and keep gatherings small, many found their plans very different than any they had made before. Traditions were put on hold as a population went on time out. Many people downsized, delivered, or made do.   

In the best of times, Thanksgiving dinner preparation can be a challenge to the novice cook. Once you add the need to put grandma on “Zoom” video to show her your lumpy gravy, things get downright weird.

Thanksgivings gone wrong

Generally the best tales of turkeys gone wrong come from novice chefs. People who are best at scrambled eggs and ramen noodles are not always ready to be thrown into the deep waters of roast meats and mashed carbs. Their eyes glaze right over when you get to homemade noodles, yeast rolls and pie.

There were tales of the bag of innards left inside the turkey. Side note: just fish it out and go ahead and eat the turkey. There was the roaster that blew a fuse and never actually cooked the turkey — and went unnoticed for hours.

Then, there was the rock hard frozen bird that the inexperienced shopper did not realize they couldn’t just pull out and “bake real quick” on Thanksgiving morning.

Some faced the realization that there is really no “keto” way to make bread stuffing. You can have the veggie tray and like it.

Somewhere someone forgets to add the sugar to the pumpkin pie puree. It is also quite common to mix up canned pre-seasoned pumpkin pie filling with pumpkin pie puree. The two are definitely not the same.

Biscuits burn if forgotten in the oven. No one eats the applesauce if you forget to put it out. Never, ever leave the turkey unattended on the counter in a house with a cat — or particularly adept dogs. This is how we learn. GirlWonder can cook. She makes lots of healthy things like baked fish and roasted veggies. She’s a big fan of salads and iced coffee. This week, however, she was working on making Thanksgiving dishes with her Brawny Boyfriend. She called me for advice on green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and “oh my gosh mom can this much butter be right for mashed potatoes?”

Yes, my child, butter is always the answer.

Our bubble

Our household gathering was just seven of us in our “bubble.” We still made two turkeys and all the fixings. Mr. Wonderful wanted to smoke a fresh turkey. I insisted on an old standby frozen, thawed and roasted — an emergency backup turkey of sorts.

I am also Midwestern and thus incapable of not using every 9 by 13 pan in the house. We had two kinds of sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (I think that’s a law), gelatin “salad” (no actual salad greens were harmed in the making of this creamy delight) and enough butter to float a barge. Also, cream cheese. So much cream cheese. Thanksgiving is just a tradition of delicious, yet terrible, nutrition.

Also, for the record, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes for seven people is an awful lot of mashed potatoes. I may have become engrossed in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Mesmerized, I just mindlessly peeled potatoes until the town saved Christmas and the heroine realized she loved the hometown lumberjack after all.

Nothing but time

When dinner was over, many families realized that they had nothing but time. They weren’t driving over the river and through the woods. Black Friday was effectively canceled or postponed. Stores opened to the far more manageable time of, say, 6 a.m. on Friday instead of dinner time on Thanksgiving day.

For many, this made it the first time in years that Thanksgiving was a time to slow down, count our blessings, and not take a single gathering for granted. It was not necessarily the Thanksgiving we wanted but perhaps it was the Thanksgiving we needed.

Thanksgiving 2020 is in the books. I don’t want to be quarantined on Thanksgiving ever again. However, it was what it was and we made the best of it.

Choices were made. Calls were placed. Cheer was spread. I hope it was blessed and full for all.

Special congratulations got out to those who — due to this change of holiday plans — just discovered that they have a dining table, or a stove.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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